By Tia Basu
Illustrated by Bhavya Kumar
They keep telling me what my body is meant for.
Its shape perfect for child bearing, the hips broad and easy, the lap wide enough.
They talk about my breasts. Small, but they’ll do.
No doubt they talk about my vagina (except they call it The Oh My!) and whether it’s young and tight and what it will become later.
They are so very prosaic…
Turning my body into a textbook
Case of What a Woman Should Be.
A textbook with one page and
The kind of textbook one doesn’t look at all year, and then mugs up hurriedly before suhaag raat.
Little do they know.
My body begins with my eyebrows.
I can raise them one at a time
In amusement, or sometimes disbelief.
They are imperfect arches on either side of my frown lines
That show up when I am displeased at you
Perhaps you as well.
They wouldn’t talk of my eyes and how I can look up
Through my lashes, just so
Making contact without touching
While my lips part
Ever so slightly, turning up at the corners
But always a little crooked.
As though my smile is yours for the taking,
But I can take it back at any time.
I wonder if they heard about the back of my neck
That tender line that is exposed when I put my hair up
The place where my scent is at its most potent
Sometimes, I will raise my hand slowly,
Place it on my neck
I do this whenever I am uncertain and would you be so kind as to reassure me?
Have they considered
That one errant strand of hair
That I always keep loose
So that I may tuck it behind my ear
You see, I can be coy, a little shy
I can be anything
I want me to be.
What do they know of the power of my shoulders
That brush lightly by the bodies I like
When I look back over the right shoulder, I am appraising you.
When I rest my hand on the left and massage it gently,
Your eyes will be drawn to my hand on my skin
To that perfectly touchable spot where neck melts into shoulder.
Think of my hands.
Imagine how they linger on yours,
How often they come up and laughingly cup your cheek
Sometimes, I’ll be grateful and touch your shoulder gently
Thank you, you made this touch possible.
Thank YOU, you made me wonder what else is possible.
Did they even think about the small of my back,
The tops of my thighs
The cross of my calves
As I lean in during a conversation
My elbow casually placed
Two inches from yours
Just know I’m close
Know I will listen
I will notice you.
I will tell you
That some days my body is a sonnet,
Yesterday it was a dirty limerick
Today, I don’t know… there are too many possibilities.
So much poetry, so much pleasure.
Not that they would know…